How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay in the Fridge: A Straight Answer

August 26, 2022

You can keep chicken in the refrigerator for up to two days after it has been thawed.

As a chef, food safety was a big part of my job - one that I took very seriously. This is why I know all about storing all kinds of meat, including thawed chicken.

In this post I will outline how long can thawed chicken stay in the fridge and give you some pointers on storing it as well. Let's get started!

How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay In The Fridge

How Long Can Chicken Stay in the Fridge After Thawed?

According to the USDA, once you thaw chicken, you can store in the refrigerator for an additional two days. For best taste and texture, though, it is best not to keep the raw chicken for longer than a day.

This rule applies to whole chickens as well as chicken breasts and other pieces.

Remember that this rule only applies to chicken that has been stored at a temperature of less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the chicken has been left out for any period or if you have experienced any power loss, then the chicken may go bad far more quickly.

raw uncooked chicken breasts

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Is Thawed Chicken Good After 4 Days?

The answer is probably not. The raw chicken may have not spoiled just yet, but it isn't necessarily safe to eat, either. You may also find that flavor and texture has been compromised.

Is Raw Chicken OK in the Fridge for 5 Days?

Then, how long can raw chicken stay good for when refrigerated?

It doesn't matter if it is defrosted chicken or if it is fresh - you shouldn't keep chicken in the refrigerator for longer than two days at a time.

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Chicken in the Fridge?

If you have already cooked your chicken, then there is a little bit more leeway here. On average, cooked chicken lasts a bit longer than raw chicken - about three to four days. However, I like to suggest that raw or cooked chicken is eaten as soon as possible to maintain palatability.

This does depend on how soon after preparation, the chicken was placed in the refrigerator, though. If the chicken was left out for a long period of time, then it may spoil sooner.

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How to Store Thawed Chicken Properly?

Always be careful when handling chicken that has been thawed. A good rule is to keep it tightly wrapped in plastic. If has already not been wrapped up, do this now. Make sure that there is a good vacuum seal.

Your other option is to place it in an airtight container. This will prevent the juices and blood from getting into other places in the fridge. It will also ensure that other odors don't permeate the chicken.

I always like to mark down the date that I placed the chicken in the fridge on its wrapping or container. This lets me know how long I have before I need to get cooking.

Can You Refreeze Defrosted Chicken?

Yes, you can! If you have let the chicken defrost only to find that you will not be able to cook it within the two day timeline, it is best to place it back in the freezer.

It can stay here for several months, but I would recommend cooking it sooner rather than later. During the thawing process, some of the taste and texture may have been compromised. To regain this, it is best to cook the chicken as soon as possible.

Does the Method of Thawing Determine How Long You Can Store the Chicken?

Yes, the method that you use to defrost frozen chicken can determine how long the chicken can be kept safely in the fridge.

Understand, the safest way to thaw chicken is with refrigerator thawing. This is where you move the frozen meat from the freezer to the fridge. As the frozen chicken isn't exposed to any microbes and is kept at a proper temperature throughout, you can thaw chicken safely.

As a result, you are able to let the thawed chicken stay in the refrigerator for longer.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't like this method as it can take a lot longer to defrost chicken this way.

Your other option is to thaw chicken in cold water. This speeds up the process but ensures that the overall temperature of the chicken remains at a safe temperature.

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marinated chicken legs

For this process, place the whole chicken in a bowl or pan. Make sure that the packaging on the chicken remains in place. Then, fill the container with cold tap water. Make sure that the frozen chicken is submerged but that no water gets inside the packaging.

To speed things up even further, empty out the water and refill it with cold water every half an hour or so. This way, you will be able to cook chicken in as little as two hours.

Under no circumstances should you use hot water to speed up the process. This will cause the temperature to drop into what is known as the danger zone. This is a range of temperatures between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

At this range, bacteria can multiply rapidly, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

This is why you should also not let the chicken defrost on the counter, at room temperature. Once again, the risk of spoilage is too high. At most, whole chickens shouldn't be left out for longer than an hour at a time.

The same goes for thawing chicken in the microwave. While this is a quick method, it causes the chicken to heat up, placing it in the danger zone.

Not to mention, I generally advice people against defrosting chicken in this manner as it is tricky to ensure it is fully thawed. More often than not, you are left with hot and cold spots due to uneven heating. You may also end up with cooked chicken in certain portions.

What are the Signs of Spoiled Chicken?

I know that despite my advice that a lot of people are going to try and keep thawed chicken in the fridge for longer than two days.

Well, if you are planning on doing this, I would ask you to inspect the chicken before cooking it.

The first sign of spoilage is a slimy texture. It will be far slippery than regular fully thawed chicken. The meat may also appear grey or brown. If you notice any green spots or patches, then toss it immediately.

The other sign to be mindful of is the odor. You may notice a rancid smell or the meat may simply smell off.

If you do notice any of these signs, keep in mind that cooking the chicken will not reverse spoilage. There are many spores that are heat resistant so you can still get sick from eating cooked chicken.

Tips for Cooking Thawed Chicken

Once you have taken the thawed chicken out of the fridge, it is best to cook it as soon as possible. If you will not be cooking it right away, it is best to place it back in the refrigerator until you are ready.

Now, there are some recipes that tell you to wait until the chicken is near room temperature before cooking it. This is so that the chicken cooks faster and more evenly. I would advise against leaving the chicken out on the countertop for longer than an hour.

Make sure that it is completely covered while out.

When cooking, grilling, or roasting the chicken, check that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from the heat. This will guarantee that the chicken is cooked all the way through.

There you have it - your answer (and more!) to how long can thawed chicken stay in the fridge. To reduce the risk of food poisoning, make sure to follow all the guidelines outlined here.

They can seem tiresome but in this instance, it is far better to be safe than sorry!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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